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Last month, the Bureau of Economic Analysis surprised almost everyone by announcing that real U.S. GDP increased in the first quarter of 2014 by just 0.1%, virtually nothing. When the Commerce Department then announced a higher-than-expected U.S. trade deficit, several Wall Street firms revised their forecasts for final first-quarter GDP to negative – in other words, the potential start of a recession.

Yet, the U.S. stock market was near an all-time high. Blaming the first-quarter disappointment on harsh winter weather, leading economist were near-unanimous in predicting a strong rebound in the second half of 2014. The Federal Reserve chairwoman and financial media remained upbeat.

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